Of all the coins I’ve ever sold on TV, Morgan Dollars are my favorite by far. At the end of 2006, I decided I wanted to purchase one really nice Proof Morgan Dollar. I ended up buying an 1880 PR68 Cameo. At first, I was a little scared to pull the trigger because the coin was more expensive than any single coin I had ever purchased. However, I felt pretty certain that I was making a good deal because the coin was priced 25% below market at the time. Also, NGC had only graded 13 Proof Morgan Dollars in 68 Cameo and technically there were only 2 coins with a higher grade.
Unlike Brilliant Uncirculated Morgan Dollars, with mintages of 5 million, 10 million or more for most years, they really didn’t mint many Proof Morgans. The 1880 I bought came from the most populous year, and there were only 1,355 Proof Morgans minted that year. I had noticed that when people tried to buy the finest known of regular Brilliant Uncirculated Morgan Dollars, every couple years they might get a little bit of a disappointment when the population for that grade increased, or they might have had the finest known and all of a sudden a coin one grade higher would appear out of nowhere. Fortunately with Proof Morgan Dollars, almost all of the nicest coins were graded in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. It is very seldom that the population of the finer coins ever changes, and when they do it’s usually caused by an upgrade or downgrade during the regrading process.
Every time I looked at the coin, I was struck by the sheer beauty of the Proof Morgan Dollar series. My 1880 had incredible mirrors and great cameo contrast. I couldn’t help but think that because of Proof Morgan Dollars’ rarity combined with how beautiful they are, they might be one of the most undervalued segments of the coin market. It really appeared to me that Proof Morgans were taking a backseat to all of the Mint’s new issues and other numismatic coins that were hot at the time. I believed that a real opportunity existed. Within a month I found myself falling under the hypnotic spell of the Proof Morgan series.
After spending hundreds of hours looking at the series in its totality, I started asking myself if it would be possible over time to put together the finest set known, one that people would enjoy seeing as much as any collection in the Smithsonian. Even though I knew I didn’t have the resources necessary at the time to put this set together, I felt that my 20 years’ of buying experience and my ability to make deals would even the playing field with other collectors who had no budget restrictions. I attended every single major auction - whether online or in person - trying to put my collection together. Over the next four years, the combination of passion and obsession with Proof Morgan Dollars generated the most work, stress and joy that I have ever put into a coin project.
In 2009, I was honored that NGC selected the Chappell Collection as their Grand Prize Registry Set winner. With over 250,000 coins and 50,000 sets in their registry, they chose my set. To read more about why my set was chosen, click here.